Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Husband's Memoir and Legacy

As many of you know, I am working on a new book which includes excerpts from my late husband, John M. Cavalieri's, memoir.  John's memoir was never published and for years it languished in a bedroom closet tucked behind his West Point memorabilia and scrapbooks. 

From time to time, I would pull out the black binder and begin reading yet again.  I always found in those 300 plus pages something new about the man I had loved, his days as a cadet at West Point, his keen observations about corporate America . . . and finally how hard he tried to beat cancer and stay with the boys and me.  His writing was riveting, honest and emotional.  He knew how to create scenes, use dialogue  . . . and stay true to his voice as a man and as a writer. 

The work literally seemed to have a life of its own, crying to be heard.  As anyone who writes memoir knows, we do so because it is therapy, a spiritual practice,  a story crying to be told and we are the only ones who can tell it.

For me, it had always been a dream to see his work published, but the question was how I felt his book required some editing and refocusing since it had been written 20 years ago.  So I began thinking about creating a story  - dipping a toe into the invented, the remembered and the imagined - where John's "life" is told through the main male character in my novel; a character who like John believes in honor and duty to family and country.  A man who feels as comfortable in denim as a uniform  . . .  as comfortable in California as on the streets of South Philadelphia.
Now through the new publishing dynamics that I have written about before, John's dream that he could share his story - especially his battle with cancer, can become reality. 

I realize this project is one I must undertake with great love, caution, patience and prayer.  For in many ways, I am reliving again my life with John and that is both painful and sweet. I am also entrusted with his most precious words in a book that was his legacy to his sons and me and to his readers. 

As he wrote in 1992 in the Foreword:
"At the urging of a friend, I am writing about my journey.  I realize now that my medical problems and my mental and physical journey might help other people facing the same battles."

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